One of the few events that took place as a result of the Cold War that dominated the political landscape of the world for most of the second half of the 20th century was the Space Race. Both American and Russian scientists went all out to try and lead their nations to be the first to reach the stars with more than just a telescope. There was a lot of chaos that ensued as a result, and between the two countries, a lot of things were achieved. It all culminated with the Apollo 11 mission, where the American people witnessed three of their own walking on the surface of the moon.
It’s safe to say a lot of progress was made in a short amount of time in the space race. But one question you might have: Could I have done it any better? Well, game development studio Auroch Digital has decided to give you the chance to find out with Mars Horizon!
Mars Horizon is a management simulation game where you take control of the space program for a country and try to reach as many milestones as you can. You are in charge of building rockets, expanding your base of operations, and researching things to open up new and more complicated missions. You are also running against all of the other countries in the game in attempt to reach these goals.
You start by choosing a nation to play as. The nations you can choose include USA, Russia, China, Japan, or the ESA (Which is basically a combination of all European countries besides Russia), each having their own bonuses and relationships with the other countries. You can customize certain aspects of the nation you choose, such as their flag, their relationships to other nations, and their bonuses, meaning you can tweak your nation to suit your play style. Whether that means you focus more on money to build better rockets, science to research faster, or diplomatic relations to help you work well with the other nations, there is something for any play style here.
Once you’ve chosen your nation, you choose a difficulty and the game begins. The tutorial in the game is helpful without being overbearing. It guides you through the mechanics of the game clearly, without making anything feel overly complicated. It sets you up to be able to play the game without pointing you towards a play style that may not fit you.
Once the tutorial is done, it leaves you to make your own decisions. Using the money from research, you can build more rockets to launch more missions. There are some RNG elements in the game, but they don’t feel like a hindrance. In fact they add a lot of fun to the game. Taking a chance on a rocket launch during a thunderstorm just so you can be the first nation to send a crewed mission into space only to have it explode in mid air may be frustrating, but it makes you weigh what does or doesn’t matter to you and your program.
In the early stages, the missions into space are as simple as a successful launch, but as the missions get more complicated or go further out into the solar system, you have a small mini-game you need to complete where you collect resources at the cost of power or other resources. You have a set number of turns to gather enough resources and fulfill any other objective or the entire mission is a failure. Again, as the missions get more complicated, you’ll find yourself needing to complete more and more of these as you go.
The missions do get more complicated, but the difficulty curve is extremely smooth. You’ll never feel out of your depth playing this game, but you will feel the missions needing both more concentration and more short term planning as the solar system and better technology opens itself up to you.
The graphics and cutscenes you’ll be seeing through your time with the game aren’t groundbreaking but fit the tone and style of the game perfectly. The main screen of the game, which shows the planets is beautiful. The planets are all vivid, and the sun is nice and bright. The graphics of the rockets and the launch sequences are just as pleasing.
To top it off, the music and sounds in the game couldn’t be better. The music is very calm and captures the vastness of space perfectly. Very sci-fi without bringing on thoughts of extraterrestrial life. The rockets make satisfying blast sounds as they launch into outer space, making you want to launch as many rockets as possible just to see the fantastic cutscene with all the different rocket parts. The launch countdowns are read in the language of the country you choose, which is a nice touch.
It’s a good change of pace to play such a well thought out and user friendly game as this one, which doesn’t rely on having a quick reaction speed or even a decent depth perception. Mars Horizon is a game you can play at your own pace without worrying about how many hours have ticked over on your watch, though it’s safe to say you’ll most likely find yourself wondering where the day went as you get more and more invested in running your space program as well as possible.
Overall, Mars Horizon is an absolutely fantastic management simulation game, and quite possibly the best you’ll find on the Nintendo Switch. It’s suited to both casual and hardcore players and will leave you with a desire to play through it multiple times. Don’t be surprised if Mars Horizon ends up becoming one of your most played titles!
Great both for players new to the genre and veterans
Smooth difficulty curve
Easy to learn, hard to master
Not for adrenaline junkies